PANASONIC WV-BP310 and WV-BP510 Monochrome
WHAT OUR EXPERTS SAY...
Monochrome surveillance cameras have tended
to be overshadowed by developments in colour camera technology and in some
applications they have become marginalised. Nevertheless Panasonic clearly believe
thereís plenty of life left in the old dogs yet, moreover there are still
plenty of situations where they are the only logical choice. Very low light
conditions are a case in point, where colour cameras can be inappropriate or unsuitable.
CCTV camera manufacturers tend to concentrate
much of their development work on colour cameras but Panasonic have wisely
decided that performance and advanced exposure facilities are equally important
on black and white cameras. From the outside the WV-BP310 and WV-B510 series
cameras look quite similar, indeed, the case, lens mount and 440k pixel CCD
image sensors (giving a low-light sensitivity in the order of 0.08 lux are
virtually identical), but they are pitched at different sectors of the market.
The WV-BP310 is the simpler of the two,
intended for routine installations with reasonably predictable and
straightforward lighting conditions. There are three basic versions: the BP310
is mains powered; the BP312 and BP314 are line-powered, requiring 12 volt DC
and 24 volt AC feeds respectively. The cameras are housed in alloy cases
measuring 67 x 65 x 123mm, up front thereís a sturdy C/CS mounting collar with
simple back-focus adjustment. A threaded mounting plate can be fitted to the
top or bottom of the case. On the side thereís a standard 4-pin socket for an
auto-iris lens (DC or video control). On the back panel thereís two BNC
sockets, for the composite video output and external genlock input. A miniature
5-way DIP switch selects AGC on/off, line-lock or internal synchronisation,
Electronic Light Control or ELC (high-speed shutter for fixed-iris lenses), DC
or video control for auto iris lens, and hi-Z or 75 ohm impedance. The only
other adjustments are presets for vertical phase and ALC level, accessed
through a pair of covered holes on the back panel.
The quality of construction is very high. The
layout is slightly unusual, with the video processing circuitry, on a single densely-populated
PCB, located at the bottom of the case. The top half is taken up by the mains
power supply; this almost helps assists with heat dissipation and should help
prolong the life of the electronic components.
The WV-BP510 is a mains-powered camera, a
second variant (WV-BP514) is available, that can be powered from a 24 volt AC supply.
The 510/514 is designed to cope with difficult situations and incorporates a
number of advanced digital processing facilities. Mechanically itís the almost same
as the BP310, but instead of the DIP switch on the back panel thereís a
cross-shaped bank of five tiny buttons. These are used to select and enable
options presented by the cameraís menu-driven on-screen display system. The main
menu covers the following functions: setting and displaying camera ID (up to 16
characters) ; ALC/ELC (auto/fixed iris operation) and backlight compensation;
high-speed shutter (8 speeds, up to 1/10,000 th sec); AGC on/off; gain up);
internal or external synchronisation; wide/normal dynamic range; motion
detector; plus aperture and pedestal levels.
Backlight compensation and motion detection
sub-menus allow the installer to define screen areas; when selected the display is divided up into a grid of 48
squares (8 x 6), which can be toggled on or off. In the case of the backlight
compensation facility this allows the installer or user to mask out brightly-lit
areas. The motion detector grid operates on a similar principle, with the grid
used to define the area of activity, sensitivity is adjustable. When movement
is detected the camera sends an alarm signal down the video cable. This can be
used to trigger a VCR, via a WV-RM70 remote camera controller, which can also
be used to set up the BP510ís digital functions.
The wide dynamic range mode is useful for
balancing images that contains excessively light and dark areas. The electronic
gain-up facility increases low-light sensitivity by a factor of x32, by
reducing the image sensor refresh rate. Effectively this is a slow-speed
shutter, that varies from 1/25th to 1/1.6 th sec; the speed can be fixed, or
the camera can be programmed to respond automatically to very low-light
situations. Like its stablemate, the BP510 can be used with both fixed and auto
iris lens, the latter can be either DC or video controlled.
Both cameras can accommodate a wide range of
lenses, to suite a variety of operating requirements. They are relatively easy
to set up and use, more so in the case of the BP310 as it has only a limited
range of functions. The buttons controlling the on-screen display on the BP510
are a little fiddly, and they could be awkward to use, particularly if the
camera is mounted in an inaccessible location. However, under normal
circumstance theyíll only be needed once, during the initial set-up procedure.
Where access is severely restricted itís possible to align the camera using the
RM70 remote controller.
The backlight compensation and motion
detector systems are reasonably easy to set-up, though again the on-board
controls do slow things down, and setting up a complicated mask or activity grid
could prove quite time-consuming.
In good natural light (with the exposure
systems on neutral settings) both cameras perform well, with similar resolution
(just over 550-lines), and exceptionally low noise levels. The BP310 produces a
clear, well-defined image with a useful dynamic range. Low-light sensitivity is
good, and the auto exposure systems are responsive, though it is better suited
to relatively stable lighting conditions.
The BP510 is superbly well-equipped to deal
with challenging situations, where there are wide variations in lighting,
either within the scene, or overall, throughout the course of the day. The
backlight compensation facility is a key feature, that could prove indispensable
where the choice of camera angle would otherwise be limited or compromised by bright
lights. The motion detection facility is most impressive, though it does depend
on suitable interface circuitry, to activate an alarm or recording equipment.
Two highly proficient cameras, that
convincingly prove black and white cameras can be every bit as sophisticated as
their colour counterparts, moreover they can operate in situations where colour
cameras would be ineffective or uneconomical.
PRODUCT ASSESSMENT BP310/510
Design and design features 8/9
Circuitry and components 9/9
Ease of installation and wiring
Range and variety of functions
Accompanying instructions 8/8
Technical advice and backup
Value for money 8/8
” R.Maybury 1996 0707